NEWS: Disability Advocate Venus Ilagan Appointed as New RI Secretary General

Posted on 16 July 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Human Rights, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Distinguished Disability Advocate Venus Ilagan Appointed as New RI Secretary General

(New York, New York, US, July 14, 2008)

Rehabilitation International
(RI) is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Secretary General, Venus Ilagan of the Philippines. As a woman with a disability from the South, Venus has worked tirelessly to advance the rights of persons with disabilities, particularly during the negotiations for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Venus is expected to commence this important new role in September 2008, subject to resolution of visa and contractual arrangements, and Venus will be based at the RI headquarters in New York City, New York.

Venus is a well-known advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities for years. As a leader in the National Organization of Disabled Peoples’ of the Philippines (KAMPI) and the Differently-Abled Women’s Network (DAWN) of the Philippines, as well as holding various positions, including Chairperson, of Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI), Venus has promoted disability rights at the national, regional and international levels. Her vast experience with UN agencies and other international organizations includes her consultancy work with the Asian Development Bank and the World Health Organization.

As a representative of DPI, Venus has strong links within the International Disability Alliance (IDA), a coalition of 10 international and regional organizations of persons with disabilities, and served as IDA Chair from May 2004 -May 2005. She is well regarded within IDA and the newly created IDA CRPD Forum, of which RI serves as the Secretariat.

RI President Michael Fox remarked, “We are extremely pleased that Venus will be joining the RI team. She will be leading the RI Secretariat at a critical time in our growth, with the focus on implementation of the UN Convention and growth of the RI Foundation. We very much look forward to working with her and sharing her insights and experience.”

RI will formally welcome Venus as our new Secretary General during the RI World Congress, to be held in August 2008 in Quebec City, Canada. For more information about this event, please visit

RI also takes this opportunity to show our great appreciation to the current Secretary General, Tomas Lagerwall of Sweden. Since joining the RI Secretariat in 2001, Tomas has further developed excellent relations with RI membership in many countries, and has provided key support to the development of IDA. Tomas played an important role during the successful negotiations and coming into force of the CRPD. Tomas has demonstrated an enormous dedication to RI, and the RI Executive Committee and members most sincerely thank Tomas for his seven years of service to RI. 

About RI
Founded in 1922, RI is a global network of organizations of persons with disabilities, government agencies, service providers, researchers and advocates promoting and implementing the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities. RI is currently composed of about 1,000 members and affiliated organizations in 93 nations, in all regions of the world.

For more information about RI, please visit their accessible website:

The above announcement was circulated by Rehabilitation International. I retrieved it from the AdHoc_IDC email discussion group.

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NEWS: Disability Advocate, Gladys Charowa, Dies

Posted on 21 April 2008. Filed under: Children, Education, Human Rights, News, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The following email was recently circulated on the AdHoc_IDC listserv, an email discussion group devoted to disability rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), as a tribute to fellow listserv member and disability rights advocate, Gladys Charowa.

Hi folks,

The vast majority of you will have seen many posts here from Gladys Charowa from the DWSO. She was a great supporter of the Convention and worked hard to ensure that her group were not going to be excluded from the Convention nor from the process.

It is with great sadness to that I have to inform you of Gladys Charowa who was the Executive Director of Disabled Women Support Organisation (Zimbabwe). Gladys suffered a stroke on the 6th of March and her health subsequently deteriorated leading to her death on the 7th of March, 2008 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Gladys Charowa was involved in the disability movement since February 2002 during her rehabilitation in Harare after breaking her back in a car crash in December 2001. She was released from hospital in April 2002 after experiencing the conditions tolerated by the women who were also being rehabilitated. She decided to set up the Disabled Women Support Organisation (DWSO) after helping some of the service users at the centre; for example, she successfully petitioned an education examination board to allow a student with disabilities additional time to sit her examinations. Gladys wanted to challenge the traditional view that there is nothing that can be done to support women and girls who are spinally injured.

DWSO works alongside hospitals, often in rural areas, to provide support for individuals and their families to become both physically and financially independent; this includes training to sensitise the community, peer group education and micro-finance projects. DWSO is one of the first disability organisations to have projects in each of the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe.

DWSO also works with schools, setting up Disability Clubs and projects to help children and parents to increase their understanding of the needs of disabled people. Since 2002, she worked tirelessly as a disability activist fighting for poverty reduction, particularly among disabled women. Gladys was an active disability activist at both national and international level, and contributed immensely to disability related literature. Gladys will be greatly missed in disability activism and may her soul rest in peace after working so hard for a good cause.

Some of Gladys Charowa’s publications

(i) Reply to a statememt for discussion: investing in education for children with disabilities is economically not interesting

March 1, 2006 – Published by: Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development (DCDD), Available at

(ii) Body blows: in the thick of Zimbabwe’s current turmoil, women with disabilities face hellish prejudice, hunger and rape. Gladys Charowa bears witness.(POVERTY & GENDER)(Column) – Published in New Internationalist, November 1, 2005

Best wishes,


Frank Mulcahy

Thank you to Frank Mulcahy of Ireland for sharing this sad news with the AdHoc_IDC listserv.

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NEWS: Brazilian Journalist, Disability Advocate Recognized

Posted on 29 November 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Human Rights, Inclusion, Latin America & Caribbean, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Brazilian activist awarded with the International Service Human Rights Award

Brazilian journalist, Rosangela Berman Bieler, director of the Interamerican Institute on Disability and Inclusive Development, will be awarded on 5th of December with the International Service Human Rights Award in the category Defense of Human Rights of People with Disabilities. The award ceremony will take place at the House of Commons in London (UK).

Rosangela Berman Bieler has been recognized for her 30-years achievements for the promotion of an inclusive society which promotes and respects the diversity, the inclusion, the equality of opportunities and the independent living for all.

“In the midst of the historical approval of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities”, declared Matthew Snell, Chief Executive of International Service, the British development agency, the award promoter, “we recognize the strategic importance of the disability perspective, associated to the core human rights issues and challenges of the present times”.

For more information, please contact International Service Field Director in Brazil, Luca Sinesi:

International Site:

International Service Human Rights Awards
The first International Service human rights awards were held in 2003 as part of International Service 50th anniversary celebrations. Since then the ceremony has become one of the key events in the British overseas development calendar.

We Can Do received this press release via the Intl-Dev email distribution list.

On a personal note, I used to work for Rosangela Berman Bieler as a writer/editor and am both pleased and proud to see her receive this award. And, of course, I am not at all surprised. Congrats, Rosangela!

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